‘Jeopardy!’: Ken Jennings Once Revealed That Contestants Hardly Interacted With Alex Trebek On the Show: ‘Alex Remains a Mystery’

Ken Jennings is arguably the most famous contestant to ever appear on Jeopardy!. He won a staggering 74 consecutive competitions, as well as the Tournaments of Champions. Still, he spent a ton of time with the late Alex Trebek, and he once revealed that most contestants don’t actually get to know Trebek at all.

Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings
Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings | Jeopardy Productions/Getty Images

Ken Jennings had 74 consecutive wins on ‘Jeopardy!’

Ken Jennings chose the perfect time to appear on the nighttime game show. Jennings, who is the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time, first appeared on the show shortly after a new rule was enacted: The limit did not exist. Previously, Jeopardy! Contestants could only appear on as many as five consecutive episodes. The rule was changed in September 2003, at the beginning of the show’s 20th season.

Jennings’ run started less than a year later, in June 2004. And he quickly became the most notable game show contestant. As Jennings’ win streak continued, more and more people began to tune in to watch him express his genius. Jennings eventually went on to win 74 straight episodes, finally losing on Nov. 30, 2004 to Nancy Zerg. Since then, no one has come close to Jennings’ streak. James Holzhauer is regarded as the second-best Jeopardy! Champion, having won in 33 straight games.

Alex Trebek, Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer
Alex Trebek, Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer | Eric McCandless/ABC/Getty Images

RELATED: Which ‘Jeopardy!’ Legacy Has the Higher Net Worth: Ken Jennings or James Holzhauer?

Jennings revealed on his website that most contestants don’t spend any time with Trebek

In past episodes, when constestants have appeared on the show, they seemed so friendly with former host Alex Trebek. Trebek, who died last year from pancreatic cancer at age 80, had hosted the show for nearly four decades before his death. And he always seemed to have a close relationship with his contestants.

According to Jennings, though, Trebek never spent much time off camera with anyone on the show. “The contestants don’t get much of a chance to chill with Alex,” Jennings revealed in the FAQ section of his website. “The ultra-tight Jeopardy! security procedures keep the contestants well-separated from anyone who might know the day’s questions and answers, and that includes Alex.”

Jennings went on to say that Trebek “remains a mystery” to most contestants, despite that on TV, it appears he’s had a chance to bond with them. Over the course of filming so many episodes, though, Jennings added that he did have a chance to become close to him.

Alex Trebek converses with James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter during the Tournament of Champions
Alex Trebek converses with James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter during the Tournament of Champions | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Ken Jennings is temporarily replacing Alex Trebek on ‘Jeopardy!’

The world was saddened when news broke that Trebek had died on Nov. 8, 2020. And from there, the question arose of what would happen to the show. There has not yet been a solution for the problem of who the next host will be, though Jennings has agreed to step in as the interim host.

The game show champion arguably spent more time on set than anyone else, and he’s notable enough that people would want to tune in. Still, Jennings recently came under fire for tweets that resurfaced, though he has since issued an apology, and it hasn’t appeared to affect his job as host.